Annual Student Survey Shows Unexpected Results
Teachers and Principal Synold comment on the results.
October 21, 2018
The Maverick Pulse‘s second comprehensive student survey was conducted among 682 A-TECH students — about two-thirds of the student body — in September 2018. The following are the results.
The program area closest to having gender equity is Business Management, with 50% of respondents being male and 50% of respondents being female. The most female-leaning program area is Legal Studies, with 69% of respondents being female, and the most male-leaning program area (excluding Web Design) is Information Technologies, with 80% of respondents being male, though Architectural Design and Computer Science are not far behind.
The sexual orientation question provides for an interesting statistic — that about 13.8% of students identify as members of the LGBT community (17.2% when counting questioning students).
“I’m totally not surprised by the sexual orientation because we have a lot of students who are openly homosexual or bisexual,” said English teacher Dr. Soo Park. “I’ve had a lot of students come out in writing assignments that they’ve done for me.”
According to a recent Gallup study, 8.1% of millennials (born 1980-1999) identify as members of the LGBT community, a substantially higher number than adults from older generations. Current high school students are composed of Generation Z, the generation after millennials, and this statistic shows an even higher relative population of LGBT people at A-TECH compared to older generations.
“I think that that’s higher than a lot of the staff recognizes,” said Principal Jonathan Synold. “I didn’t even realize that about 13% of students identify as LGBT.”
When taking gender into account, female students are significantly more likely to identify as bisexual or questioning than male students, making up 76% and 87% of these demographics, respectively, even though only 40% of total respondents were female.
A surprising number of students — about 40% — favor non-STEM subjects (arts, languages, social studies) over STEM subjects (math, sciences, most program areas).
“When you think that we’re a STEM school, you know, the math and program areas make sense because that’s what we’re known for, but the arts is exciting because I think it shows that people have diverse views and interests,” said Principal Synold.
The program area with the highest number of students who picked it as their favorite subject relative to its number of respondents is Architectural Design, with 35% of respondents from the program picking it as their favorite subject.
Female students are more likely to favor the arts and languages, with 61% and 58% of respondents who chose these subjects being female, respectively. Male students are more likely to favor math and program areas, with male students making up 69% of respondents for both subjects.
A low number of respondents — 22% — claim to cheat regularly (either sometimes or often) on assignments. Many teachers suspect that this may be because of differences in perception.
“Just recently, I caught three students who shared three of the seven responses they were supposed to submit [for an assessment],” said Park. “They shared answers, and they didn’t think that that was cheating, but then it came up as similar on the similarity report . . . so the fact that they shared answers — all three got zeroes. In my definition, that’s cheating.”
Principal Synold has a more optimistic perspective on these results.
“Sometimes, teachers think that there’s this pervasive cheating culture,” said Synold. “I think the Internet has allowed for that somewhat, but it seems like our students are still taking advantage of the educational opportunities and not just cheating.”
Social studies teacher Paula Woods, however, is less optimistic. In her signature sass, Woods stated that she was surprised by none of the results in this survey except for one — the low number of students who claim to cheat.
“The cheating is obviously a lie because it’s self-identified,” said Woods. “They should start cheating, and if they have, that’s just even sadder,” referring to her students’ low grades.
A considerably higher number of male students claim to cheat compared to female students. For example, 77% of respondents who claim to cheat on homework often are male.
The high percentage of students who rated A-TECH overall a four or five excited Principal Synold.
“We’ve worked very hard the last few years to build in connector programs — things that connect students to A-TECH,” said Synold. “What you see is that in the 11th grade group right now — typically, we lose about 30 students to CSN High School or other programs, but this year we lost just a few students, and that shows me that from 10th to 11th grade — that those kids are already connected because if you’re connected to the school, you’re gonna want to come back for your last two years.”
The amount of homework teachers give has been a constant conversation among faculty, according to Synold.
“I think that we always go back to is, you know, you just gotta make sure the amount of homework is equal to the amount of time,” said Synold. “When you’re picking your classes — if you’re going into that junior year and you know you have to work after school, you probably shouldn’t take four or five AP classes. So that idea of balance, especially on the AP level — we want students to challenge themselves, but also, each student is so individual what their expectations are at home. Are you watching your little brother or sister? Then if you’re doing that, you’re probably not gonna be able to take so many AP classes.”
Over half of students feel that they are prepared for their future after high school, perhaps more than other high schools in the Valley.
“What I hear from people that have graduated is they are immensely prepared,” said math teacher Kristen Taylor. “Sometimes, they don’t realize how prepared they are until they enter into college and then they’re like, ‘College is so easy compared to A-TECH.'”
Only 17% of respondents have a job, 12% less than the national average of 29%, according to a recent Pew study.
“Back in my day, it would have been the opposite. Everybody worked,” said Spanish teacher Lee Carlton. “I’ve been working since I was 12 years old. I delivered the newspaper.”
A-TECH students are a lot less rebellious than the teenage stereotype. Only 12% of respondents who are not allowed to date are going against their parent’s wishes and dating.
“I recently saw an article about today’s teenagers not wanting to date or not wanting to get into relationships versus like ten years ago,” said Park. “There are less teenagers wanting to be dating or wanting to be in a relationship.”
It could be, though, that they just can’t find a date.
Almost three-fifths of students rated their stress levels at a four or five, making for an anxiety-ridden student body.
“What we’re finding when we talk to teachers — their expectations are one thing,” said Principal Synold. “They’re like, ‘I only give 20 minutes of homework. The kids are procrastinating until right before the test.’ There’s probably some truth to that. The students are saying, ‘I have four hours of homework every night.'”
According to the National Sleep Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes public understanding of sleep and sleep disorders, teenagers need eight to ten hours of sleep to function best.
Students are getting nowhere near as much, with most sleeping five to seven hours on school days. 6.2% of respondents sleep three or fewer hours of sleep.
“A-TECH teachers are kind of on the low end of sleep as well,” commented Taylor. “I would like to know these people who average ten hours a night.”
Multiple teachers commented that Facebook is indeed for old people now, with only 19% of respondents using it regularly. The most popular social media site/app is Instagram at 65%.
One statistic of note is that fewer students use essential school-related websites and applications like Google Classroom, Google Drive, and Infinite Campus than YouTube.
Half of all students do not follow politics.
“It’s kind of surprising how little involved they are in politics,” said Taylor. “Maybe they don’t understand the views of each one of these categories [liberal or conservative], so they don’t even know what they follow. They might have opinions, but they just don’t know what category they fall into.”
The Speaker of the House is one of the most powerful people in American politics and is generally in the news a lot. John Boehner was the Speaker of the House from 2011 to 2015, during the Obama Administration. Nancy Pelosi was the Speaker of the House from 2007 to 2011. Mitch McConnell is the current Senate Majority Leader for the Republican Party, and Chuck Schumer is the current Senate Minority Leader for the Democrat Party. 22.3% of students who claimed to follow politics in an earlier question answered the Speaker of the House question incorrectly, meaning they may not follow politics as much as they think they do.
“I just did an assignment. We learned about Cesar Chavez and his movement for labor rights, and so it did get the kids thinking a little about politics in that way,” said Carlton. “I asked them what would they be willing to peacefully protest for and there were quite a few who had strong opinions.”